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News: BEA Announces WebLogic Platform 8.1 at BEA eWorld

  1. BEA announced its WebLogic Platform 8.1 at eWorld. The platform has been expanded to have solid integration between the products. WebLogic Workshop allows developers to manage their J2EE components, Web Services, high level business processes, and more, all from the one tool. The products are available in beta now, with the GA scheduled for Spring.

    "WebLogic Platform merges all of the features of the existing BEA WebLogic products--application server, development, portal, and integration--into a highly integrated solution, combining the benefits of a common application infrastructure with an easy-to-use, robust framework."

    "BEA WebLogic Platform 8.1 also will provide a unified security model across all the platform components, providing a consistent mechanism for securing applications, portals and business processes. The innovative structure of this security model can require less development and provide greater flexibility in administration than alternative offerings. The BEA WebLogic security framework also is designed to allow third-party security software vendors to plug in to it."

    The new release includes:

    WebLogic Server Enhancements
    - Unified, Easy to Use, Development Environment and Programming Model
    - Industrial Strength Foundation
    - Auto Configuration and Whole Application Monitoring

    WebLogic Workshop Enhancements
    - Unified framework for all IT applications
    - Simplified development for all IT developers
    - Extensible Controls for all IT Assets

    WebLogic Integration Enhancements
    - Delivers new Business Process Management capabilities
    - Embraces enterprise Web Services
    - Leverages the BEA Workshop framework
    - Provides a layered set of infrastructures and tools

    WebLogic Portal Enhancements
    - Build process portals in WebLogic Workshop that combine business processes and Web Services
    - Create portal content repositories and use existing enterprise content as part of a virtual portal content repository
    - Assemble custom portals using browser-based tools
    - Build custom portals using a flexible delivery framework with multi-level presentation options and wireless services

    WebLogic JRockit Enhancements
    - Industry-leading performance benchmarks on Windows and Linux, and improved server start-up time
    - 3rd party profiling (JVMPI) and debugger (JVMDI) tools support
    - IA64 platform support

    WebLogic Platform Cross-Component Enhancements
    Convergence Between e-docs and dev2dev

    View dev2dev WebLogic 8.1 information

    Whats new in 8.1

    BEA Press Release on 8.1

    Visit BEA eWorld 2003

    Threaded Messages (22)

  2. I'm down here in Orlando and enjoying the first day of BEA's eWorld conference. I had a chance to step through BEA WebLogic Workshop 8.1's new features - BEA has a nice Hands On Lab for us true geeks... too much marketing speak in the general session.

    Workshop 8.1 comes with a cool mechanism to visually layout the workflow of a Web application. You identify entry, input, decision and applications calls through visual controls. Each control when published becomes part of a Web-enabled application. It's almost an entire flow language but it appears in Workshop in parallel to BEA's support for BPEL (Biz Process Engineering Language.) I'm going to dig into the control system tonight and I'll post what I find.

    The visual layout of the controls may also be edited in a source-view for a Java Page Flow (JPF) file. JPF files for Java developers look straight-forward and powerful. JPF is kind of the glue that lets you work with the controls through traditional Java object instantiation and method call techniques - so a JPF for a Web application I built is only a few lines of each control and the rest of the work is done in the underlying class for the control. I'm pretty fixated on JPF because at first look it seems to me that I could parse JPF files to automatically create intelligent test agents in my open-source test tool TestMaker (details at http://www.pushtotest.com/ptt.)

    One very cool feature of Workshop 8.1 is that I can now build my own controls. The control API is pretty typical of what a Java developer would expect to plug in new functions to an existing IDE. This deserves more study too.

    -Frank Cohen (http://www.pushtotest.com/ptt)
  3. |
    |Workshop 8.1 comes with a cool mechanism to visually layout the workflow of a
    |Web application
    |

    It also appears that the underlying webflow engine is struts.

    -Nick
  4. the underlying engine is struts ...

    The docs mention that the portal is "struts-enabled"

    cheers,
    Kris
  5. Struts + XMLBeans + JSP[ Go to top ]

    Workshop gives you this nice GUI tool for building Web apps. Underneath is Struts and JSP pages plus they introduced XMLBeans, a new library for working with XML data in Java. I'll post more on XMLBeans soon. -Frank Cohen (http://www.pushtotest.com/ptt)
  6. J2EE and J2SE versions?[ Go to top ]

    The release notes for WebLogic 8.1 don't say anything about whether or not they will be supporting the J2EE 1.4 features. Perhaps they're sticking to 1.3 since 1.4's release was delayed until the summer. I'm guessing it's safe to assume that WebLogic will finally support J2SE 1.4 now.
  7. J2EE and J2SE versions?[ Go to top ]

    |I'm guessing it's safe to assume that WebLogic will finally support J2SE 1.4
    |now.

    Its currently shipping with Sun and JRockit JVM 1.4.1_02.

    -Nick
  8. I would like to know if BPEL is being used in 8.1 as the standard way to orchestrate services together ?
  9. BPEL4WS[ Go to top ]

    BEA, IBM and Microsoft are contributing to BPEL4WS. That's the workflow programming language that will come with 8.1. Mark Nottingham of BEA in his session on Standards told us that additional work on interchange formats and descriptions coming next from the BPEL4WS working group.

    -Frank Cohen (http://www.pushtotest.com/ptt)
  10. BPEL4WS Control[ Go to top ]

    Collaxa offers a BPEL4WS engine[1] to orchestrate BPEL4WS business flows within Weblogic 7.0 and 8.1.

    Edwin
    [1] http://www.collaxa.com/pdf/collaxa-bpel101.pdf
  11. BPEL4WS support in WLI 8.1[ Go to top ]

    <Olivier Brand >
    I would like to know if BPEL is being used in 8.1 as the standard way to orchestrate services together ?
    Brand >

    I'm down here in Orlando and enjoying the BEA's eWorld conference.
    As my understanding from the weblogic integration 8.1 introduction and roadmap session, currently BEA does not support BPEL and they are creating new language JWF( Java workflow language) which is based on BEA Workshop for BPM definition and planning to submit it to JCP.

    I am pretty impressed with the WLI 8.1 and it has lot of pretty cool features like all new rewrite of their transformation engine based on XQuery, new message broker and common workshop based development tool for all integration developement.

    Monickam
  12. JWF vs BPEL4WS ??[ Go to top ]

    Why is BEA defining a new language to achieve the same goals as BPEL ???
    I would assume that using something like WSIF with BPEL4WS (like the IBM implementation) would solve the workflow issues on integrating java processes witj other java processes. WSIF is optimizing protocols and allows to describe a service using WSDL, so far JCA, EJB, Java, SOAP and JMS are supported. Combining this with BPEL4WS enable you to compose disparate technologies into a unique entity: the process.
  13. Re: JWF vs BPEL4WS ??[ Go to top ]

    Very good point. There are a lot of there innovation in Workshop and WL 8.1. BEA might not have had the muscle to pull everything through: BPEL4WS is far more sophisticated than JWF, the new XML language that BEA is introducing.
  14. Re: JWF vs BPEL4WS ??[ Go to top ]

    From what I've seen in 8.1 beta, JWF is annotated Java. It uses the same concept as xdoclet (BTW, similar annotations in WL Workshop 8.1 also cover EJB generation, so xdoclet just got a cometitor). Annotations CAN contain XML elements, but some don't. Also, some workflow logic is implemented as java code in proteced sections.

    Also note that BPEL4WS (and all other Web service orchestration/BPM/whatever initiatives) only performs actions on web services. JWF works on Workshop controls, which need not be web services, but can be also database adaptors, EJBs, Java classes, JMS destinations. You really don't want to wrap everything into a web service, especially if you are not exposing it to the outside.
  15. EJBGen / XDoclet[ Go to top ]

    <quote>
    From what I've seen in 8.1 beta, JWF is annotated Java. It uses the same concept as xdoclet (BTW, similar annotations in WL Workshop 8.1 also cover EJB generation, so xdoclet just got a cometitor).


    The "just" is not quite accurate, I started EJBGen pretty much at the same time Rickard started what is now known as xdoclet. That was about two years ago (http://www.yahoogroups.com/group/ejbgen)

    Also, EJBGen is now supported in Workshop.

    --
    Cedric
  16. I do not fully agree with you. I think that WSDL should be used no matter what as a defacto interface for internal as well as external objects.
    WSDL can have different bindings. The bindings are technology dependant, which means that you can include Java, SOAP, JMS, EJB, JCA, .NET, PERL, ..... in the same WSDL document. These documents are splitted in 2 parts: implementation and interface. Interface does not change, this is the contract. So there should be only 1 interface and N implementations.
    Now, you can apply WBPEL4WS to link your objects in a process flow. Since BPEL4WS is linking WSDL documents together (bindings), you should be able to orchestrate Java Objects without using SOAP !
    IBM gives a pretty good example where you can test this: WSIF (Apache now) + WPBEL4J = High Level Orchestration which is technology independant.
    We do NOT need many workflow languages, this is confusing the industry and the developers !!!
  17. +1. Olivier is making a good point.

    BPEL4WS and Java Binding should be the way to go.

    At the minimum, all other orchestration abstraction should be compiled into BPEL4WS byte code.

    Multiple process specification will dramatically increase the complexity of management and monitoring and confuse the market.
  18. But the why??[ Go to top ]

    Why should one use a BPEL4*WS* do define all business processes, even those not subject and targeted to web services in the first place. Does sound strange to me.

    On a different matter, I keep wondering why everyone seems to strive for "languages" that are fairly impossible to read. Granted, a "language" (actually a blown up markup) built from xml is fairly easy to manipulate with proper tools but - at least if it gets more complex - hard to impossible to read for a human being. But then again, if this is the case (and is most certainly is) why should there be any need at all to standardize to a common language - other than ease the toolvendors life.
  19. BPEL4*WS*[ Go to top ]

    Karl,

    Business process is a broad term so first let me make sure that we are talking about the same thing: we see a lot of enterprises trying to make multiple applications and systems work together. They can use XML to model the data that is passed back and forth, the can use SMTP, HTTP, JMS to transport that data, they can use SOAP as an envelop with extensible headers (security, reliability, transactions meta information). In this picture, given that most of interactions are asynchronous, there is a need for a process language to control, sequences and orchestrate the flow of messages across the network.

    This is the problem that is trying to be addressed and if you have done JMS programming in the passed ( = implementing flows, parallel processing, timeouts, exceptions, compensation ), you will propably agree that it is not trivial. Specially if you need to design and implement the application in a way allows for easy updates.

    Why do we need one language?
    The benefit of one standard language (process byte code) is that is allows for the creation of tools for editing that language, container for executing it, consoles for monitoring and management. SQL is a good case study for the type of industry that can go around a standard like BPEL4WS[1].

    Why select a language that is impossible to read for a human?
    This is a good point. We had some of the same concerns (and this is why we complement BPEL with JBPEL[2]) at first and then ended giving up. Standards are also about politics and compromise: it is not always the most elegant or simple solution that is selected; it is the one that is the most widely adoptable. Vendors have legacy and they will often lobby to make sure that what gets standardized is compatible with their existing solutions. BPEL4WS is far from perfect but support for both structured activities and linked graphs and backing from Microsoft and IBM provide a good foundation for getting to the next step.

    Finally, the beauty of web services is that it is language agnostic. This means that if you do not want to take advantage of a BPEL4WS container and want to instead implement your flows in Java or C#, you CAN. As long as you respect the WSDL constracts.

    Edwin

    [1] BPEL4WS quick start
    http://www.collaxa.com/pdf/collaxa-bpel101-ds.pdf

    [2] Introduction to JBPEL
    http://www.collaxa.com/devpack.samples.MaheshDemo.html
  20. BEA?s developer conference eWorld opened today in Orlando, Florida on the third day of the third month of the third year of the new millennium ? someone might call this a convergence. The opening event included lasers, lights, smoke and music you could dance to ? well maybe it was just I, the software geek, dancing. True to life the theme of this eWorld is convergence. The presentations today gave me the sense that BEA has a long-term vision and through its products and partnerships is capable of delivering an end-to-end Java-based solution for building Web applications.

    The timing of this eWorld seems fortuitous: .NET, jBoss, SunONE are new platforms in which the cement has not yet hardened. While it hardens around it BEA has shrewdly assembled a complete set of technologies to provide developers with the tools and server software to build the next wave of applications coming soon to your browser, phone, and service. The BEA bet is that enterprises will reject Microsoft for being a Windows-only monopoly, reject IBM for being a consulting shop with a lot of expensive-to-integrate software, and jBoss for not being complete.

    BEA introduced WebLogic Enterprise 8.1 ? I?m still not sure what happened to 8.0, but that is another story. WebLogic 8.1 provides end-to-end tools, server platforms, and stacks for building Web applications and Web Services. BEA said that they have learned much from their past efforts to provide IT with development and integration tools. Alfred Chuang, founder and chairman of BEA summed it up: ?All integration is development, and all development is integration.? The new platform goes after developers and integration engineers by offering tools that enable the groups to leverage off each other.

    BEA set the tone well by having Carly Fiona in the opening session. I had visions of Carly announcing that HP would buy BEA to compete against IBM. None of that was reality though and Carly delivering a pretty dry speech. Her talk include announcement of 4 new investments:

    1) HP is creating a dedicated Web Service management organization to promote: OpenView, OpenCall, and the Utility Data Center.

    2) HP is partnering with BEA to build a WebService deployment practice. HP currently has 450 consultants to help enterprises deploy J2EE solutions faster and less expensively. HP will grow that group to 1000 consultants. This builds on the .NET practice they announced in Fall 2002.

    3) HP will work on a technology called OpenView Web Service Engine to actively manage Web Services rather than the underlying platform. The idea is that the new service manager would be able to recycle Web Services from the application layer rather than recycling the server.

    4) HP will contribute to OASIS an extensible framework to model and design relationships between Web Services. The idea is to have developers able to architect workflow for immediate deployment to BEA and Micosoft platforms. HP is partnering with BEA, IONA, Tibco, and WebMethods to make this happen.

    Next came BEA?s announcement of the dev2dev Subscriptions program. All developer seats are now free for the entire WebLogic Platform 8.1. BEA will deliver quarterly shipment of all code, documentation and provide support to interact with BEA engineers and support technicians for $599 per year. Move up to $4659 per year and you also Borland JBuilder and a higher level of support.

    The morning session finished with designer John Underkoffler of Treadle & Loam showing off his work on gesture-based computer interfaces in the movie Minority Report. John urged the audience to use design techniques to built good software. Then Tyler Jewel, BEA?s director of technical evangelism, gave a lively impression of Tom Cruise on stage showing how fast BEA WebLogic 8.1 develops applications.

    Workshop, Workflow, Work easy

    BEA WebLogic Platform 8.1 is the first time I?ve seen a Web application enabled workflow management tool built into an IDE. Perhaps I have been living in a tree for a while. So I spent lunch digging into BEA?s new WebLogic Workshop 8.1 and XMLBeans technology. Workshop 8.1 uses XMLBeans as an interface between XML and Java. A developer visually creates a workflow and uses XMLBeans to evaluate XML data with Java code. The evaluations then may be used to determine which way the workflow moves.

    Workshop automates packaging and deploying the Web Service with a SOAP-based interface on WebLogic Server. Workshop does these using Java Web Service (JWS) deployment descriptors that appear in the Javadoc comments in the Java source code of your Web Service. While this is good Apache Axis supports JWS too. Workshop goes a lot further by providing an easy-to-understand visual environment for building Web Services. The service appears as a software component with inputs and outputs.

    Previous attempts to solve the problem of building dynamic Web page content resulted in Java Server Pages ? where HTML code is intermingled and perhaps mangled with Java code ? and Active Server Pages ? same problem of mixed code and content. Workshop 8.1 nows supports JSPs and the new Java Page Flow (JPF) workflow control language. Under JPF a Web application calls a method of a control object rather than posting a message into a JMS-style message queue. The JPF handles taking the request to move through the workflow process and handles all the messaging to the correct JSPs and workflow objects. JPF also makes the ?struts?-based control system easy for the developer by enabling a visual design mode for the application?s workflow.

    XMLBeans

    BEA introduced XMLBeans. XMLBeans is a Java library to provide an easy and efficient way to work with XML-encoded data. XMLBeans will compete for a developer?s attention against Xerces, JAXP, and JDOM.

    XMLBeans seems to be a classic BEA technology move: While there many be existing libraries of similar functions already in the world and adopted ? for example Xerces - BEA wrote their own implementation of an XML parsing, validation and management library that meets their own needs for ease-of-use and performance. BEA follows it up by making the implementation generally available with a loose license. That?s what BEA has done with XMLBeans.

    XMLBeans solves two big problems for XML and Java handling: XMLBeans deliver easy and powerful APIs to work with XML in Java and XMLBeans is fast. XMLBeans is a schema compiler. You provide it with an XML schema defining an XML tree and XMLBeans delivers a Java library with all the needed methods to parse, create and manipulate elements in the tree. The APIs feel very much like JDOM?s APIs. Additionally, XMLBeans implements a cursor-based system to walk through data in the XML tree. The compilation could happen at run-time so really cool things like dynamic SOAP serializers are possible in the future. This is something to download and try now, then keep your eye on XMLBeans.

    Open Standards Outlook

    Mark Nottingham of the BEA CTO?s office provided a roadmap of open standards that BEA is following or working on. First was a roadmap for the core Web Services protocols (SOAP, WSDL, UDDI.) BEA looks at Web Service standards as a messaging system, XML, http, processing model, intermediaries. Mark noted that the core services are a protocol construction toolkit.

    Mark is on SOAP 1.2 working group. The working group is meeting next week. BEA is pushing for SOAP 1.2 spec to support SOAP with Attachments. When asked if BEA would provide an implementation of DIME Mark said that while he can?t speak for the product team at BEA he has seen from past work that if two competing standards become widely used then BEA will likely provide implementations of both standards.

    Mark noted SOAP 1.2 would come soon and WSDL 1.2 was far away. He had little to say about UDDI. So much for the core.

    Here are Mark?s comments on the extended Web Services core:

    The extended Web Services is where Mark spends most of his time. Extended services provide message-level security. Mark noted that WS-Security is the de facto standard (Microsoft/IBM/Verisign.)

    WS-Security TC (OASIS) is a work in progress and working team is currently debating the scope of work for the team.

    WS-Policy family (BEA, IBM, MS), provides policy assertions, enables statement of requirements, options, policies, etc. For example, policy would be to negotiate which PKI to use.

    Reliability ? WebLogic Server 8.1 will come with Reliable Messaging built-in for Web Services. The specification is already released. We are currently in the very early days for reliability specs.

    HTTPR is dead. BEA?s focus is on Web Service calls between servers and service providers.

    BPEL4WS (BEA, IBM, Microsoft) is a workflow programming language. Additional work on interchange formats and descriptions coming next.

    Choreography WG - W3C working group just getting started.

    On the topic of interoperability Mark noted that WS-I creates functional profiles. The WS-I team?s first deliverable is how to use basic protocols (SOAP, WSDL, etc.) Working group going to vote in mid-March.

    The first day at eWorld was a blast. And now it?s time for me to sleep a few hours and start day #2.

    -Frank Cohen, http://www.pushtotest.com/ptt
  21. I forgot to plug my own writing. At eWorld I showed the new Performance Kit for BEA WebLogic Workshop. The kit shows how to test your Web Services in Workshop for scalability and performance. Details are at http://www.pushtotest.com/ptt/kits/wlwencodingkit.html.

    -Frank
  22. EWorld report day 1 by Frank Cohen[ Go to top ]

    Those who missed a very informatative event you can find the presentations here..

    http://www.bea.com/content/news_events/events/eworld/2003/tracks/presentations.jsp
  23. Beyond WebLogic 8.1[ Go to top ]

    Though version 8.1 was just announced, BEA is already planning to add application management and more security functions to future WebLogic releases.

    http://www.crn.com/sections/BreakingNews/breakingnews.asp?ArticleID=40305